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Six Nations 2021: How things stand

With three gameweeks played in the 2021 Six Nations, it’s a good time to take stock of how the tournament is shaping up so far. It’s been a topsy-turvy edition of the Six Nations thus far, with plenty of shock results and dramatic moments defining the tournament. When the event got underway in February, it was England who stood as favourites, but all that has now changed.

Six nations
Photo: Six nations

So, what are the odds for the Six Nations? Well, at the time of writing, Wales are slight favourites to win the competition after racking up three successive victories to win the Triple Crown and set themselves up for a Grand Slam charge. It all began against Ireland in a game Wales were expected to lose, but Peter O’Mahony’s early red card gave the match an entirely different complexion, and Wales ran out 21-16 winners.

That victory gave Wales the momentum to defeat Scotland 25-24 in a rip-roaring encounter at Murrayfield, before a seismic 40-24 win over England in Cardiff left Welsh rugby fans feeling considerably more buoyant than at any other time during Wayne Pivac’s reign as head coach.

However, hot on Wales’ tails are France who have only played two matches due to the fact that their game against Scotland was postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, Fabien Galthié’s side has looked sharp in the matches that they have played, hammering Italy 50-10 before grinding out a hard-fought 15-13 win over Ireland in Dublin.

France’s Grand Slam hopes are very much alive, and only the fact that Wales have played a game more means that they are not the bookies’ favourites. It’s unclear when the game against Scotland will be played, but it will likely be after the rest of the tournament has concluded, so if things go France’s way then that could be an opportunity to secure a first Six Nations triumph since they won the Grand Slam in 2010.

England were the pre-tournament favourites having won the 2020 edition of the Six Nations, but things have gone pear-shaped for Eddie Jones’ men. The tone was set with an opening day defeat to Scotland in the Calcutta Cup, a match in which England failed to produce anything near their best. They got back on track with an expected win over Italy, but the defeat to Wales in Cardiff showcased England’s defensive frailties, and now it’s a damage limitation job for Jones and his side.

Ireland have also struggled, coming out on the wrong side of narrow defeats to both Wales and France. Without the early sending-off against Wales, it could have been a different story of Andy Farrell’s team, but Ireland have failed to do themselves justice. The recent win over Italy will have inspired some hope, but like England, Ireland will simply be battling to finish as high up the final table as possible.

Scotland still retain lingering hopes of winning the title, as like France they have only played twice, beating England before losing narrowly to Wales. They’ll need to win all their remaining matches and hope that Wales and France both lose a game if Gregor Townsend’s men are to have any chance to lifting the trophy, which looks unlikely. Italy have once again been the Six Nations’ whipping boys so far, but the real excitement this year is the battle for the Grand Slam between Wales and France. It’s anyone’s title to claim according to the Six Nations betting tips from Betfair, and the clash between the two teams on March 20th will be crucial.

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